British Airways has set its sights on opening a cabin crew base in Madrid to deal with a staffing crunch that could lead to a summer of travel chaos for the beleaguered, disruption prone airline.
The airline has already asked potential recruits to register expressions of interest in the temporary positions that would see Madrid-based cabin crew sent to work British Airways flights out of London Heathrow on short-haul routes.
The airline has been forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights in just three weeks and chief executive Sean Doyle has warned that the cancellations could continue through to the end of September. British Airways is reportedly struggling to recruit enough cabin crew and other workers to meet a huge surge in travel demand resulting in knock-on disruption.
The airline industry has blamed recruitment delays on lengthy security vetting procedures that have resulted in scores of new recruits being unable to even start training until they are cleared. British Airways is already bringing in crew and aircraft from Finnair to make up for some of the shortfalls.
The Finnair cabin crew will work on Finnair aircraft in what is known as a ‘wet lease’ agreement but the latest plan involves hiring fully trained Spanish cabin crew who could complete a quick conversion course and then operate British Airways aircraft.
Surplus crew at sister company Iberia are being eyed up to help out over what is expected to be an exceptionally busy summer.
If the plan gets put into action, Spanish cabin crew would be flown to London for between three to five days where they would work a succession of short-haul flights. In between duties, they would be put up in hotels before being flown back to Madrid for their days off.
Potential recruits have until April 24 to register their interest. BA says they are only gauging interest at this time but if the base were to go ahead, it would open in June and remain in place until October. The airline says it will make a decision on the base by the end of April.
British Airways has taken flak over its decision to slash thousands of jobs at the height of the pandemic that has now left it short-staffed. Supporters say BA was left with no choice after a slew of government-mandated travel restrictions devastated the airline industry.
Along with cabin crew, the airline is struggling to recruit enough baggage handlers and other ’below wing’ workers. As a result, the airline has been making headlines for deliberately leaving passengers’ bags behind because there aren’t enough staff to load or unload luggage onto aircraft.
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.